The universe has remained the prime source of curiosity among the human beings since the ancient times. Thankfully, most of the orthodox and misconceptions from those times came to an end—as science developed—with the exploration of this cosmic ocean. A number of times, stargazers came up with several theories held under varying beliefs; some were rejected while others became the foundation stone for further researches. Most of us have grown up clubbing that scattered knowledge about the universe and more specifically, our solar system, to derive conclusions in our very own ways which actually, rarely correlated with the reality! But thanks to curious scientists and efficient spacecrafts, we were and still are able to explore newer and distinctive facts about our solar system and universe at large, successfully. Now, it is time you go through the fact sheet to get deep insights about our solar system and several facts associated with it, which you may have never come across before. Get ready for the fascinating ride to the solar system!
Number Of Planets: 8
Planets’ Names: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune
Dwarf Planets: 5
Dwarf Planets’ Names: Pluto, Ceres, Makemake, Haumea and Eris
Natural Satellites: 146
Artificial Satellites: More than 2,500
Interesting And Fun Facts About Solar System
- Scientists believe that the Solar System was evolved from a giant cloud of dust and gas which collapsed due to its own gravity, forming a spinning cloud.
- It is considered that several small clumps of gases and dust in that spinning cloud resulted in the formation of our Solar System’s sun, planets, moons, and other celestial bodies such as comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, dust and gas.
- Solar System is located on the outer spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy, which has a diameter of about 100,000 light years and contains about 200 billion stars. The sun lies between 25,000 and 28,000 lights years from the galactic centre of Milky Way.
- It is believed that our Solar System’s location in the Milky Way galaxy is a key factor for life on the Earth.
- A major chunk of Solar System’s mass, about 99.86 %, is in the Sun alone. This mass is known to dominate Sun’s gravitational field. And about 99% of the remaining mass is contributed by the four gas planets.
- About 98 percent of the material existing in the Solar System is present in the Sun.
- Since gravity of an object is directly proportional to the size, the gravity of the Sun, due to its large size, pulls all other objects in the Solar System towards it. So, the planets, instead of flying away into the outer space, ultimately got trapped as orbiting around the Sun, their parent star.
- The Sun is made up of 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium, and it is estimated to be around 4.6 billion years old.
- The life on the Earth is primarily backed by the intense energy and heat of the Sun.
- The entire Solar System consists of eight planets. Out of these planets, first four (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) are rocky and terrestrial in nature while the outer four (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) are gas giants.
- The outer four planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have ring systems around them, though the rings of Saturn are the largest.
- Except for our home planet Earth, all other planets are named after Greek/Roman Deities.
- Most of the moons of the Solar System are named after mythological characters from one or the other culture with the only exception of Uranus. The moons of Uranus have taken their names from plays of William Shakespeare and the poem ‘Rape of the Lock’ by Alexander Pope, whereas Earth’s moon too, is just called the ‘Moon’.
- The smallest planet of the Solar System is Mercury which is also closest to the Sun whereas Jupiter is the largest known planet in the galaxy and is the fifth planet from the Sun.
- Pluto, discovered as the ninth planet in 1930, was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006, bringing the number of known planets to eight.
- The first five recognised dwarf planets are Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea.
- The tiny, distant dwarf planet Pluto, orbiting at the Kuiper Belt, has a solid surface which is much icier than the terrestrial planets.
- The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter includes the dwarf planet Ceres, along with a number of asteroids while the other four dwarf planets namely, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris lie beyond the orbit of Neptune. These four dwarf planets are also termed as ‘Plutoids’.
- The asteroids have low mass that even the cumulative mass of all the asteroids would be less than that of the moon of the Earth.
- The asteroids, also known as the ‘minor planets’, orbiting in the vicinity of the Earth are termed as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs).
- About 90,000 asteroids have been found in the Solar System, particularly in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
- The region far beyond the orbit of the dwarf planet Pluto is home to number of comets and is known as the ‘Oort cloud’. Comets are the cosmic snowballs made of frozen gases, rock and dust particles.
- Small chunks of rock and debris in space are called ‘Meteoroids’. When they fall through a planet’s atmosphere, leaving behind a bright trail due to heating by the friction of atmosphere, they are called as ‘Meteors’ or ‘Shooting Stars’. Those meteors which successfully hit the ground are called ‘Meteorites’.
- The study of meteorites has ascertained that the Solar System may have formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
- Almost all the known planets and some of the moons in the Solar System have an atmosphere.
- The natural satellites, orbiting planets in our Solar System, count to be 146 and include, from bodies larger than our moon to small pieces of debris. The number does not include three moons of the dwarf planet Pluto named Charon, Nix and Hydra.
- Initially, ancient astronomers considered that the Sun and other stars orbit around the Earth. Copernicus challenged the convention and proved that Earth and other planets orbit around the Sun.
- The Solar System has more than 8,000 artificial objects orbiting the Earth. Out of these objects, about 2,500 are artificial satellites and rest is just space junk.
- It is believed that, until the hydrogen in the core of the Sun has been completely consumed (turned into helium), our Solar System, more or less, will continue to remain as it is now for the next 5.4 billion years. It will then expand to 260 times its current diameter and will engulf the entire Solar System.
- Despite more than 50 years of advanced scientific and space exploration, much is still unknown about the Solar System, let alone the galaxy in which it is located.